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Panic At The Dojo is a tactical, grid-based martial arts tabletop adventure game with a focus on over-the-top, whimsical combat styles.
Panic At The Dojo is a tactical, grid-based martial arts tabletop adventure game with a focus on over-the-top, whimsical combat styles.
213 backers pledged $6,620 to help bring this project to life.

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Panic at the Dojo is a tabletop adventure game, brought to you by the author of Fellowship. Panic at the Dojo is focused on tactical positioning, over-the-top combat, and whimsical, customized fighting styles that you build yourself! Your characters have multiple fighting stances they can assume, and each stance gives you different bonuses and unique actions. In this way, you can effectively change your character's entire focus on the fly, to become what you need when you need it.

But you don't need to take my word for it - there is a preview adventure available for download, so you can try the game yourself.

Player Side

This Player Side PDF file contains all the rules you need to play Panic At The Dojo, along with 6 Heroes to play as. Anyone interested in playing the game should check this out!

Director Side

This Director Side PDF file contains a pre-made adventure to play the game in, featuring four different encounters with unique enemies in each. If you're interested in running a game of Panic at the Dojo with your friends, you will need to grab this. If you want to be a player in the game, feel free to grab it anyway to get an idea of what's in store or if you want a better idea of how the game works, but reading this will spoil what's to come.

If you need the maps and tokens for online play, you can find those here. If you are playing at the tabletop, you'll want to print those out from the Director Side PDF.

Everyone in the world of Panic at the Dojo has their own fighting style. Everybody! This is the Action Movie universe, where everyone has their own cool martial arts style unless they're a complete nobody. So the most important part of your character is crafting this style. How you fight forms the entire basis of everything you can do in the world.

Character creation is entirely about building your Stances. Characters have either 3 or 4 Stances each, and you can see examples of both in the Player Side PDF. Stances are built by attaching a Style to a Form, and taking the combined benefits of each. So if you combine Lightning Style and Wild Form, you end up with Lightning Wild Stance as one of the core fighting techniques of your character.

For examples of Stances, just check the preview adventure PDFs, above! They are loaded with Stances, with 15 in the Player Side PDF and 19 in the GM Side PDF to look at and appreciate.

Forms

There are 12 Forms, and everyone can choose from any of them when creating a character. They are the fundamental building blocks of a warrior, and vary wildly from one another. Your Forms are extremely fundamental, and the three or four Forms you take determine a lot about how your character fights. To show off a few Forms:

Blaster Form gives all your actions one extra target, so you're adept at fighting off entire groups and quickly taking out large numbers of enemies all at once.

Iron Form gives you armor, reducing all damage you take by 1, and lets you build up lots of iron tokens, which can be spent to reduce damage or forced movement on a one for one basis, making you incredibly tough to hurt.

Shadow Form gives you a free one-space movement every time you take damage or are moved by an action, making it the ultimate in mobility and dancing out of enemy range. It is also one of only two Forms with 5 Action Dice, letting you do a lot of things during your turn.

Styles

There are 60 Styles currently in the game, and there may be more by the end. However, you can't just pick any of them you like - each Style is part of an Archetype, like Demon or Underdog, and what Styles you can take depends on what Archetype you are. While Forms determine the fundamental nature of how you fight, Styles give you that personal edge, that unique twist that makes Explosion Blaster Stance different from Flashy Blaster Stance. To show off a few Styles:

Jumping Style lets you move three spaces at the start of your turn for free, and it lets you ignore terrain while moving, letting you quickly re-position yourself to exactly where you're most needed.

Inferno Style sets yourself on fire when you switch into it, giving you 4 Burning Tokens, then lets you spend those tokens to start enemies and terrain on fire around you.

Relentless Style pushes your target 1 space every time you deal damage to them, and then you move into the space they were pushed from, allowing you to shove an enemy across the map while you hurt them.

Of course, there's more to a game than just building warriors - then you have to fight 'em. Combat in Panic at the Dojo is turn-based and symmetrical - the Heroes get one turn, then the Enemies get one turn, and repeat on down the line until each Hero and each Enemy has had a turn, then start back from the top.

There isn't an initiative order - when a Hero turn comes up, any Hero can take it! But you only get one turn per round - if you go first, you're not going again until everyone else has had a go.

During your turn, you choose one of your Stances to assume, roll its Action Dice, and spend the numbers you get to perform actions. Higher numbers let you perform more powerful actions, and every Form has a different set of Action Dice to work with. Once you have spent all your numbers on actions, your turn is over, and the Enemy team picks someone to go next.

Your actions never miss - your dice determine how powerful they are, not whether or not they work at all. Your actions translate into a string of moves that all chain together and often feel like something only you could do, with your specific fighting style. And order matters - stronger actions tend to send your enemies flying away from you, so you need to hit them with the weaker hits first or you won't have an enemy to keep hitting!

The fight continues as long as one side stays standing. But there's more than one way to win a fight! Everyone has hit points, and being dropped to zero HP takes you out so you can no longer continue fighting. But in addition, you can temporarily be removed by being kicked off the map.

Taking a leaf from fighting games, ring outs are an important part of the flow of combat. When you throw someone off an edge, they're out! But while they're out, they can't be attacked, and at the beginning of each round, everyone who has been removed gets a chance to come back. Throwing someone through a window gets them out of your hair for now, but you're in for a surprise when they come flying back through at the start of the next round!

To be perfectly clear, one 'round' is a cycle through the entire initiative track, while one 'turn' is a single slot on the track. If you throw someone out of bounds on turn 1, they're gone until after everyone else has finished!

But what if you get taken out, either thrown out or at zero HP, but you still have a turn to take? Well, you still get your turn, but you're only there in spirit. You have to lend the limelight to one of your allies. You take a Stance as normal and roll its Action Dice, then pick an ally who is still in play to spend them! They don't get to change their Stance, and this might give them weird numbers their Stance doesn't normally get to use. But they'll have to do their best to fight in your place, picking up your slack.

In this way, a cornered enemy becomes extremely ferocious, as they get an action every single turn, but so too does a cornered hero, allowing for some powerful comebacks from the brink of defeat.

If you haven't yet, you should check out the Player Side and Director Side Preview Adventure PDFs now!

BYSTANDER - $2

Thanks!

WARRIOR - $12

At this tier, you get the PDF of the book, along with all supplementary materials and stretch goals.

BOSS - $20

At this tier, you get everything in the Warrior tier, and you get a coupon code to purchase the book at-cost upon release (est. $24.30, final book will MSRP $49.95). You will pay printing and shipping costs at that time. Not now! Do not add that to your pledge now. It will not help you.

HERO - $70

At this tier, you get everything in the Warrior tier, and you get a signed hardcover copy of the book! Shipping to Canada costs $10 extra, and $15 extra to anywhere else in the world. Unlike the Boss tier, you will not need to pay anything else when the book is done. It'll be sent straight from me to you!

MASTER - $250

At this tier, you get everything in the Warrior and Hero tiers, but you also get to design a Boss character, who will appear in the book. Bosses are the most powerful enemies in the game, and have multiple Stances, inflated HP, and count as several enemies all combined together. These bosses will have art commissioned for them, and I'll work with you to give them a unique move or ability that only they have.

Master Tier does not cost anything extra for international shipping. I hold the right to veto content submissions that are inappropriate. If you back at this tier, I will be contacting you fairly shortly after the kickstarter ends so we can get started on producing these Boss characters quickly, and will require relatively swift responses. I will send you the stats for your character before putting anything in the book, for your approval.

 

Hooray! I'll get to eat for another year, and you'll get to play this game!

What I have in the book already feels very solid and complete. But there's always room for more, and I even have a couple ideas already, although nothing too fleshed out. This stretch goal will unlock two votes, and what is up for vote is nominated by you, the backers!

The first Vote will be similar to the Fellowship vote - decide on a new Archetype to appear in the book, with its own 5 unique Styles to go with it. Archetypes in the book right now include things like the Angel, the Punk, the Teacher, or the Phantom. Possible ideas for more might be things like a Genius or an Alien or a Superhero.

The second vote will be on an Arena. Arenas are custom, pre-made maps with special rules in play. For an example of an Arena, see Encounter 3: Highway Rumble in the GM Side PDF. Arenas are big, cool set piece fights, with unique rules in play to keep everyone on their toes, and usually a unique enemy involved who you probably wouldn't find anywhere else.

If we reach this goal, I'll ask you for nominations for new Archetypes (and what you'd want them to do) and new Arenas (and what movie or comic you're taking them from, so I can see what you're talking about). If we reach this goal, I'll release a list of the current Archetypes and Arenas for comparison.

This is something I really want to do with this game, but would require a lot of work and art, both of which are time consuming and expensive. But if we double our initial goal, it'll definitely be achievable.

What I want is to have cards printed, 5 for each Form and one for every Style in the game, that you could order and just have in your hands.

With cards, your entire character could be made by combining 6-8 cards, writing your Build and Archetype and HP on a note card, and ta-da! Your entire character is right there in front of you, all written down and ready to go.

Risks and challenges

As my third kickstarter, I feel like I'm starting to get the kinks worked out! I am confident in my ability to deliver within the time frames listed on the various backer tiers, give or take a month or two.

The main mistakes in my past Kickstarters have been an over - commitment to physical tiers, so to make that less likely to cause a problem, only the Hero and Master tiers involves the books reaching me at any point. Otherwise, all fulfillment is handled through Drivethru RPG.

In addition, I will be going over the print proofs with a fine-tooth comb, to be sure no printing errors make it to full release this time. This book is only being printed in hardcover, not softcover + hardcover, so there aren't two versions of the book. Part of the reason that the Fellowship page number problem went to print is because the Softcover book did not have the error, only the Hardcover did. They both used the same interior file, so I had assumed if an error was in one, it would be in both.

I still do not know how that error happened, but if anything looks off in Panic at the Dojo's print drafts, I won't be discounting it as a weird one-time glitch - it will be getting a hard look at, even if doing so delays the release.

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    But on top of all that, you'll get to create a custom Boss to be featured in the book, with art and a custom move. See the Master Tier description for details.

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